Sunday, January 24, 2016

God's love...based on who or what?

Does God love us based on who he is or on who we are?

If by who we are we mean what we do or don't do, no. This is not the grounds by which we are loved. Nothing we can or will ever do will cause God to love us.

As well, our doing (i.e. trying to gain God acceptance by our actions) is binding and enslaving. Being loved (in contrast to earning it) is freeing. 

If who we are (our identity) is based on what we do we will never do enough to gain what we need i.e. we can never do enough to earn God's love.

We need perfect and infinite love because we were designed to be loved perfectly and infinitely. We can never secure this for ourselves, through our efforts

The good news is we don't have to, Christ did this for us. As his children we are called to simply abide/be/dwell/exist in this reality. 

Only as we abide in his love do we become loving. The more we abide the more loving we become.

Being leads to doing. Doing can never lead to being i.e. Being fully loved leads to being loving. Being loving never leads to being fully loved.

"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing....As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love." - Jesus speaking to his disciples at the last supper. Joh 15:4-6,9

Is there anything about us that God loves? 

Yes there is, but it has nothing to do with our doing anything. It has everything to do with how God made us i.e. who we are...our being. (For more on this click here

We are in his image i.e. like God, and he loves this *about us. Why? Because only image bearers are we able to enter into and fully participate in the beatific love of the Father, Son and Spirit and reflect that infinite relational love back to him OR have God's kind of  love for his other beloved image bearers, along with the rest of His highly valued and beloved creation. 

(Let us remember that after each act/day of creation God said it was good. And when he finally created mankind (male and female), the crown of his creation, he said it was all very good).

So going back to the original question on whether God loves us because of who he is or who we are, both are true. But the latter is based on and springs out of the former. So in this sense God loves us because of who God is first and foremost.  Because there is infinite love between the Father, Son and Spirit, there is infinite love for us, His image bearers.

If God were not who he was first and had not made us the way we are there would be no love. No love within God first and therefore no love going out to all of creation. 

Everything is rooted in and grounded on God being Father, Son and Spirit in blissful and loving relationship from all eternity past. And we who have been created as his image bearers, are able to fully participate in this beatific union.

"And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent...
I made known to them your name, and I will continue (by His Spirit) to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them." - the very last words (verse 26) of Jesus during the last supper right before his arrest and crucifixionJoh 17:3, 26

* in fact both we and Christ are in the image of the Father. Christ is the eternal image and only begotten Son. [ Col 1:15; Php 2:6Heb 1:3 ] We are the created image and adopted sons and daughters in Christ. This is why Christ's is called our brother.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Taking action… doing before being?

There is a lot of talk in the church about doing certain things to advance the kingdom or how we must discipline ourselves to do so. But is not all of this fruit i.e. not something we do but something that is produced in and through us?

There's often very little talk about how we are moved to action i.e. What moves us and causes us to act, to do, to bear fruit? Seeking to take action/bear fruit without understanding the cause of it would be synonymous to taking a car on a road trip and trying to push the car down the road before understanding the importance and necessity of putting gas in the car and filling up the tank.

We are not the fuel that drives the engine, God is. So we must understand how we can "tank up" before we ever talk about how to drive the car, turn a corner or the value of using a map once in route. We must understand what it means to operate and walk by the Spirit and not by the flesh.

The picture given in Scripture is we must be (abide) before we can ever do. We must be in the presence of God and his love before we can ever bear fruit. Without him we can do nothing i.e. the car goes nowhere.

For a fuller discussion click here. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The greater our sin the greater his Grace

When we are most ugly, and unlovely, God is loving us most. How so? It requires more love to love someone when they are most unlovely then when they are most lovely i.e. To love us at our worst involves a greater love (commitment to love) than loving us at our best. 

"For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person - though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die - but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." - Paul an apostle of Jesus. Rom 5:6-8

This is simply because God's love has nothing to do with our performance. It is based entirely on Christs performance. That commitment of love was made a long time ago (Eph 1:4-6) and the decision and follow through on it "is finished (John 19:30)." Therefore nothing we do can add to or take away from God's love, nothing!!! His love is secured for us and is now fixed on us no matter what! (Rom 8:31-39

Why? Because it is secured by someone else's efforts not our own. And not just anyone's, but the efforts of non other then the perfectly loved and perfectly faithful/obedient eternal son of God. The love God has for his Son is now the very same love he has for us. 

As we come to recognize this is the kind of love God has for us as his children; a love that, in the above sense, is more intense and steadfast the more unlovely we are, this love... his love, begins to transform us. 

To put this in practical terms, think of one of the area's you struggle with most. Anger, gluttony, anxiety, fear, lust etc...fill in the blank. Whatever it is think of the last time you blew it in this area. How did you feel after your failure? Dejected, rejected? (Not by God. That my friend is all in your head, not in God's heart. More on this later). 

Next time you find yourself failing in the area you struggle with most, make your self (choose to) think in the midst of that struggle, "God is loving me right now while I am in the middle of this. He is loving me in my sin and in my struggle!" Than make yourself think of why he is 100% with you and for you, loving you at that very moment and what he did so he doesn't turn away but is always loving you, as much as ever (and in a sense more than ever); that he died for that very sin you are in he middle of. 

How will this effect what you are struggling with? My suggestion is, if you really "get" his love (i.e. believe he loves you the way he says and proved) it will cause that sin's pull to lose it's grip as it's happening. If it doesn't, it is only because you don't truly believe He really loves you and is loving you in that moment. 

"...where sin increased, grace abounded all the more," Rom 5:20 

Are we getting better or worse? BOTH!

God's love for us wasn't just before we came to Christ but also now that we are in him... And in a sense, even more so. As we mature the awareness of our need for God's love increases (our objective need for it remains constant and never changes however, as well as it's availability). 

But as we mature, our actual sin/unbelief/distrust truly declines over time (i.e. our faith increases resulting in greater faithfulness/obedience) while our subjective awareness of our sin/unbelief/distrust increases. Or to say it another way, we are getting better in one sense but getting worse in another, at the same time

Our sense of increasing dependence, need and appreciation for the grace of God also increases (the need itself is and has always been present, our sense of that need has not; it grows over time).

As we mature in our faith we become more keenly aware of the various areas of our rebellious distrust as well as God's grace extended to us in that rebellion. It's not that these are new areas. They were always there, we just weren't aware they were there. They are only new to our awareness of them. 

That is not to say sin/distrust/unbelief/unfaithfulness does not matter (or to say it positively, whether faith matters), it does. Rom 6:1-2  But we are talking about God's disposition of love towards us in our sin, not our subjective experience and participation in that love. Our rebellious distrust in God does not change his actual love for us, it only changes our experience of it.

God's love objectively and our experience of that love subjectively are entirely distinct even though connected. One is always true (his objective love) while the other (our experiencing of his love) comes and goes according to our faith i.e. our trust that His love is there, never ending, uninterrupted, no matter what. 

For a further on our participation and experience of God's love click here



Friday, January 8, 2016

The mechnism of change

The primary process or mechanism by which we change is twofold:

1. Realizing the full extent of our brokenness 

    and 

2. Realizing the full extent of God's love in spite of it. 

We should pause and reflect on these two realities continuously. We will not gain the full benefit of understanding these otherwise.

The more fully we see these the more we change. This is an ongoing never ceasing process until we go in to eternity.

In addition

To see each fully requires seeing the other. One does not occur without the other.

We cannot appreciate and understand the fullness of God's love until we know the full extent of our brokenness and our constant, ongoing need for His love 

AND 

We cannot face or fully admit the full extent of our brokenness until we understand the fullness of his love.

These are like a loop. One feeds off the other and vice versa. We are constantly going back-and-forth between these two as if in an ever expanding upward spiral, gaining a fuller understanding of each as we advance upward in increasingly greater trust of his love for us.

Also a secondary but key part of our growth is understanding we are still in Gods image even though greatly marred. The importance of this is recognizing that we are worth loving i.e. lovable... Able to receive, experience and participate in his love. We are broken but that is not saying we are useless or worthless. We are redeemable and worth being redeemed or God wouldn't have made the effort to redeem us.

For more discussion on this click here.

As broken as we are we still can receive and give love back to God and in turn reflect that love out to others to his glory i.e. drawing attention the greatness of God. 

We are *responsible i.e. "response able." We are able to respond (and do respond) in love to God when we receive his love for us.

We are valuable precisely because we are like God and therefore able to have a conscious and deliberate relationship with God. We can be and indeed in Christ, we are the sons and daughters of God and the brothers and sisters of Christ.

Thinking we can be our own god is our problem. Being in Gods image and all that this means, is not. It is a key element of our actual worth.

* Responsible:

2. Able to discharge an obligation; or having estate (property-that which we are in possession of) adequate to the payment of a debt (obligation). - webster's (1828)


#Lovely #Lovable #Responsible #ThoughtsAboutGod #ThotsAboutGod